THE LEVANT – By Hassan al-Obaidi – Muslim clerics in the Arab world are saying the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) is tarnishing the image of Islam with its distortion of Islamic symbols and Qur’anic verses.
Raising banners bearing the seal of Prophet Mohammed when slaughtering or beheading innocent people, blowing up markets or engaging in other criminal acts is an abuse and distortion of Islam, Iraqi Fatwa Commission head Mahdi al-Sumaidaie told Mawtani.
Those who violate Islam’s sacred symbols must be held to account, the Sunni cleric said.
“The black banner bearing the seal of the Prophet has long been a sign of tolerance and compassion,” al-Sumaidaie said.
“With that flag, the Prophet sent the first peace initiatives to people of other religions and advised his companions [to ensure] the well-being of Christian Copts in Egypt. With it he also pardoned the people of Mecca” when he entered the city, he said.
“But today, under ISIL, that flag has turned into a symbol of killing,” he said. “When they raise it, you know they are about to commit a crime.”
Saudi clerics also said ISIL’s use of the Prophet’s stamp is an affront to him and to Islam, Elaph reported.
The historical symbol has been a symbol of peace, amity and tolerance, but ISIL has turned it into a symbol of killing and slaughter, they said.
The Prophet’s stamp has unfortunately been co-opted and used as a sign of terrorism and a symbol of killing, slaughter and bombings, said Sheikh Sultan al-Zahrani, supervisor of the Prophet Sunnah Encyclopaedia.
“This is an unequalled historical affront to the Prophet’s symbol and legacy,” he said.
“With their horrific actions, these groups insist on proving they have a different religion,” said Abdullah Fadaaq, a prominent Saudi legal theorist.
SYMBOL ‘STOLEN BY TERRORISTS’
This distortion and misrepresentation of Muslim sanctities represents a threat to Islam, and Muslims are primarily responsible for responding to it, al-Sumaidaie said.
Until recently, the seal of the Prophet was used to decorate homes and shops, and people used it to seek blessing, said Sheikh Khalid al-Mulla, head of the Iraqi cabinet’s scholar’s committee.
But after it was raised by ISIL, “everyone started fearing it and avoided raising it because it was stolen by the worst terrorist group in history”, he told Mawtani.
Al-Yaqeen stationery shop owner Mahdi al-Abbadi told Mawtani customers have become reluctant to buy works of art inspired by the seal of the Prophet, or those that carry Islamic writings which have been traditionally used to decorate the facades of houses and shops to bring blessings.
People who previously displayed these items in their homes or businesses in order to bestow blessings and comfort on them no longer wish to purchase them, he said.
“After ISIL started using them, no one wants to come near them,” al-Abbadi said.
“People here feel pain when they see ISIL steal precious symbols from them and distort the image and spirit of Islam,” he added.
DISTORTION OF ISLAM
Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah, imam and preacher of the Great Mosque of Ramadi, told Mawtani ISIL has turned everything sacred into a symbol of killing and intimidation.
“Previously, when we heard the words, ‘God is Greatest’, we would expect there to be a religious ceremony or a wedding,” he said. “But today, it has become affiliated with suicide bombings and slaughter by ISIL terrorists.”
The group’s continued distortion of Islam is evident in its misuse of “the three sacred symbols of Islam, which are the flag, the Prophet’s seal and the Qur’an, which is the most precious thing cherished by Muslims”, said University of Tikrit Islamic affairs researcher Essam al-Ojaili.
“By using these symbols, ISIL is seeking to mislead the youth and to market its criminal ideology to recruit them under the cover of religious symbols,” al-Ojaili said.
“But their lies became clear to all,” he said.